Don’t Look Up

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

Don't Look Up
dir-scr Adam McKay
prd Adam McKay, Kevin Messick
with Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Timothee Chalamet, Tyler Perry, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Evans
release US/UK 10.Dec.21
21/US Netflix 2h18

blanchett morgan rylance

Is it streaming?

hill, dicaprio, streep and lawrence
Snappy and sharply well-made, this overlong film combines elements of a political thriller with blackly comical satire about how people deliberately refuse to accept impending doom. Often amusingly comical, the film of course features strong subtextual themes. This helps it resonate in some surprising ways, including its blistering comment on the public's need for heroes and villains. And the ensemble cast of megastars adds entertaining wattage to each scene.
Low-level astronomers Kate and Randall (Lawrence and DiCaprio) are thrilled to discover a new comet, less so when they calculate that it will destroy Earth in six months. But their warnings get lost in bureaucracy. Even government expert Teddy (Morgan) can't get President Orlean (Streep) to see the urgency. So Kate and Randall set out to alert the media, speaking to reporters and appearing on talk shows where they're asked to keep it light and upbeat. But how will the public react when they learn they've been lied to? Or is it their own fault?
McKay includes plenty of touches that ground the film in the real world, punctuating the narrative with plausible delays and distractions. The public is endlessly fascinated by pop culture gossip rather than an impending extinction-level event. While politicians are more concerned with their next power move, and the media industry is only chasing bigger numbers. Everyone simply cracks a joke and gets on with wasting time on the usual nonsense, dismissing the fact that their days are numbered. All of which is of course frighteningly believable.

Lawrence and DiCaprio are terrific as the hapless scientists caught up in wonderfully absurd situations in which people wilfully reject the truth. Their reactions to these idiots are priceless. All of the characters are riotously well-crafted, including Hill as the president's goofy assistant/son, Rylance as a laughably soft-spoken tech boss, Chalamet as a secretly religious teen and Grande as a self-involved popstar. Blanchett is particularly hilarious as a plumped and stretched TV presenter, as is Streep as the blustering president.

At the centre is the loaded question of how you warn people that their days are numbered when so many simply refuse to believe the facts. This is a fascinating depiction of how business and political leaders seek to politicise or monetise impending disasters. In touching on so many topics, the spiralling plot lacks focus, veering down so many sideroads that the point is diluted. That's a shame because the film is witty and entertaining, and it has some urgently important things to say.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 11.Dec.21

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

send your review to Shadows... Don't Look Up Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall